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The Prayer Book is Not Contemporary?

Notice Board

You may have seen it – I have seen it enough to become concerned: Church notice boards that describe services something like this

9:30am A Prayer Book Service

11am A Contemporary Service

By “A Prayer Book Service” they don’t mean “1662” or “1928” (church noticeboards or advertisements that advertise with in-group language of “1662” or “1928” or suchlike are another issue…). By “A Prayer Book Service” they mean A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (or whatever is the equivalent in your area).

Distinguishing “A Prayer Book Service” from “A Contemporary Service” sends out a message loud and clear – this community does not think the NZ Prayer Book (or whatever is your local equivalent) is contemporary; and this community has put no effort into, and does not know how to, use the NZ Prayer Book in a contemporary way.

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11 thoughts on “The Prayer Book is Not Contemporary?”

  1. I would be more generous – it’s almost certainly because of people expect “A Prayer Book Service” to be in traditional language, and complain if it isn’t so, despite the increasing number of provinces who have included modern language rites in their official and primary Book of Common Prayer.

    1. That’s a fascinating response, Andy, thanks. These services are definitely not referring to a thee/thou/thine/didst-type service. Here, where I see these signs, we have not “included modern language rites” in our NZ Prayer book – our Prayer Book is totally in contemporary language. So anyone coming to this 9:30 service expecting thee/thou/thine/didst a la “1662/1928” would be in for a shock. I had not thought of that point. This titling of services is unhelpful from more than one direction. Thanks again. Blessings.

      1. Interesting – that’s extremely brave of them, if I may say so! Then again, I am firmly in the “I like worshipping God in today’s English, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use traditional services from time to time” camp. Does New Zealand authorise traditional services as an alternative?

        If the 9.30 is modern English, one would expect that an 11am contemporary service would be a Service of the Word. In theory, of course, speaking as someone who loses less sleep than some over a service not quite fitting the full definition of SotW!

        1. Living in this context, Andy, I don’t find it brave at all. Our Prayer Book is inclusive in its language also (ie. God is not “he”). Australia’s Prayer Book is similarly in contemporary English. BCP 1662 is used (and bits of 1928). I would think that is not uncommon for an 8am service, a midweek service, or an Evensong service. And, yes, I suspect that the notice boards I mention mean that at 9:30 they have a Eucharist, and at 11am it’s a songs-reading-address-prayers type service. Blessings.

  2. Here in the US we have trad and contemporary language rites (Rite I and II respectively) in the BCP; we also have a not-sure-whether-it’s-trial feminist-safe “Enriching Our Worship” (EoW) which I personally have too severe theological problems with to participate in. “Contemporary” means a guitar service and implies either Rite II or EoW; otherwise generally Rite I or Rite II is advertised, implying either a said service or the use of the hymnal and its supplements, with organ or piano.

  3. Hi Bosco,
    perhaps what the ministry team in this pasrish is saying is something like ‘0930 NZPB with Chior and Robes” and ’11am Anglican Service with band’.

    People in non ‘NZPB words from start to finish’ parishes would probably understand this in such a manner.

    I’d encourage you to visit St Saviour’s and see a fantastic use of NZPB in a contemporary way.

    1. Thanks, Zane. I am wary of dividing the Body of Christ by musical tastes, etc. It’s divided enough in other ways to taint our claims of having the truth. For one community to worship in shifts according to musical tastes and dress sense is one problem. To try and have “outsiders” guessing (as you need to with “perhaps…”) which shift to attend is, I think, unhelpful. Particularly, as it sends signals, as I’ve said, about what is “with it” and what is not. I think information on notice boards should be simple, not “in-house”/esoteric speak, and not open to significant misinterpretation. Blessings.

      1. Bosco… Interesting comments. I think some people do decide based on musical preference. Our place is eclectic in music. We do offer an early “Rite I” service Sundays at 8:00. But as we are in the midst of a rector search and have been listening to feedback from the congregation, it appears that only a small number of people are choosing that early service for the “traditional” language. Mostly they are early risers, and people who would rather not sing. A number of folk actually want the early service to shift to Rite II, or at least alternate between the two.

        Sunnyvale CA USA

      2. Hi Bosco, I agree that signage should be straightforward and simple. As you’ve commented about before Parish websites hardly do any better at lessening the confusion – if the service times are locatable at all among all the .gifs .bitmaps and ‘latest newsletters’ from August 2009.

        For one community to worship in shifts according to musical tastes and dress sense is a reality in ACANZP.

        In an evangelical or charismatic parish you will almost always find that
        Early service = oldies and NZPB, perhaps no music at all. Clergy will probably be expected to robe.
        Second service = families and contemporary music, specific ministry to children (not just expecting them to be acolytes), morning tea afterwards.

        This is one of the differences between social and confessional Anglicanism. Confessional Anglicans are less concerned about the form of the service being the same everywhere, rather the belief that is underpinned or shared in the service should be the same everywhere.

        Of course the sign sends signals about what is “with it” – just as any Diocesan publication, parish newsletter, or service in any Anglican parish does. We can’t get away from that reality – we do things differently, we relate to people in different ways, and I’d even venture so far as to say our demographics will be different accordingly.

  4. From our perspective in the UK. BCP indicates Traditional Language and is used in our parish for 8 am Sunday, for mid-week and for Evensong etc.

    We have alternate weekly Common Worship Eucharist (Contemporary Language) and a Non-Eucharistic Family Service in contemporary language. Non-Eucharistic services are often lay led.

    We also have a Sunday evening Common Worship Eucharist on those Sundays, where the Main Service is non-Eucharistic.

    Believe it or not, we have a pretty good attendance at BCP services, and even some people with young children attend, addressing the myth that only older people like traditional language services.

    Our notice Board and website and pew sheet make it clear which type of services are available, and as we’re responding to the needs of the community with our services, we believe that our mix of services is about right in our current context.

    We also occasionally provide extra services. For example a multi-cultural service, a service for those baptized in previous years. Once a year we provide a Service of Remembrance where the bereaved of recent years are invited back, along with a specific Carol service for those families.

    We remain open to opportunities for new ways of worship that allow people to understand and to partake in ways that they feel comfortable in.

    We are one parish among hundreds and there is a tremendous variety around our Deanery and Diocese. And we’re one of those also mythical beasts, a growing parish.

    1. “some people with young children attend, addressing the myth that only older people like traditional language services”
      This is increasingly common where people feel they need to worship with words of substance and not trendy ‘texting language’. When a priest cannot be understood because his/her language is mere rubbish, what is the point?

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